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NY Governor Cuomo Unleashes New Electric Bus Initiatives

More Than $16 Million in Volkswagen Settlement Funds and Technical Support for Five Large Transit Operators. Additional $2.5 Million Available Statewide for School Buses that Reduce Emissions.

  • More Than $16 Million in Volkswagen Settlement Funds and Technical Support for Five Large Transit Operators
  • Additional $2.5 Million Available Statewide for School Buses that Reduce Emissions
  • Expands Charge Ready NY Incentives for Disadvantaged Communities and Enhances Options for Aggregated Electric Transit Bus Purchasing
  • Lowering Carbon Emissions Supports Governor Cuomo’s Nation-Leading Goals under the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act

Originally published by New York State Governor’s Press Office.

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced a series of initiatives to increase the number of electric buses in New York as part of the State’s efforts to mitigate climate change, create healthier communities, improve air quality, and boost access to clean transportation in underserved communities. Specifically, this effort includes $16.4 million in incentives for the expansion of electric bus usage amongst public transportation authorities, as well as $2.5 million for school bus operators to acquire cleaner forms of transportation with lower emissions. These measures will help take polluting vehicles out of service across the state to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve air quality in support of Governor Cuomo’s nation-leading clean energy and climate goals in the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act.

“Electrifying transit and school buses at scale is an important step in our fight against climate change and is essential in helping us reach our ambitious goals to create a greener New York State,” Governor Cuomo said. “Through these initiatives, bus operators will now have the support and resources they need to modernize their fleets, reduce emissions and ensure underserved communities have cleaner public transit options as we work to further reduce our carbon footprint.”

Under the New York Truck Voucher Incentive Program (NYTVIP), $16.4 million Volkswagen settlement funding is being made available to five of the largest public transit operators in the state — the Capital District Transportation Authority, Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority, Rochester-Genesee Regional Transit Authority, Suffolk County Transportation and Westchester County Bee-Line Bus System — to facilitate their fleets’ transition towards 100 percent zero-emissions fleets by 2035, a goal Governor Cuomo announced in his 2020 State of the State Address.

Under this program, purchasers of new, zero-emissions all-electric transit buses are eligible to have 100 percent of the incremental vehicle cost covered on the condition that these buses are housed at bus depots or operate on routes located within a half-mile of a disadvantaged community. This funding builds on the NYTVIP program expansion announced earlier this year. Combined, these transit operators currently run more than 1,300 transit buses.

To provide further support, New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and the New York Power Authority (NYPA) have reached an agreement which includes more than $1 million in funding for a new program to help the five large upstate and suburban transit operators develop plans to convert to all-electric transit buses. Through this program, NYSERDA and NYPA will work with a competitively selected, pre-qualified contractor to study how to transition to electric bus fleets and install the needed charging stations in a cost-effective way. Areas of study include transit operated facilities and parking lots that could become large scale charging hubs, utility upgrades, route-based charging, the need for high-speed charging to extend bus range, resiliency planning, and the need for backup power solutions.

Image courtesy of GreenPower, via GreenPower national distributor Creative Bus Sales.

Additionally, another $2.5 million is also now available through the NYTVIP to school bus operators statewide to support the purchase of cleaner, less polluting buses. Funding will help cover up to 100 percent of incremental costs for all-electric school buses operating near a disadvantaged community. The program reduces the cost to purchase new, clean electric or alternative-fueled buses through point of sale rebates offered through a qualified vendor.

The New York State Office of General Services (OGS) also issued a Request for Information (RFI) on December 23, seeking details from manufacturers and dealers about electric and hybrid transit buses currently available in the marketplace. Responses to the RFI, which are due by January 21, will be used to develop a solicitation for electric and hybrid buses with the goal of providing transit authorities with options for purchasing green vehicles for their fleets. Transit authorities from across the state helped OGS finalize the RFI before it was issued, and they will also be involved in the evaluation of responses received to ensure the resulting procurement for clean transit bus purchases meets their needs.

NYTVIP also offers funding for businesses and municipalities that want to purchase new, clean electric vehicles or repower commercial trucks. NYTVIP is administered by NYSERDA in partnership with the New York State Department of Transportation and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. The $63.4 million for the program is comprised of $53.4 million from the state’s $127.7 million federal allocation from the Volkswagen settlement, which is directed by the multi-agency Clean Transportation NY plan and approximately $10 million in federal air quality improvement funds allocated to the New York State Department of Transportation. Learn more on the NYSERDA webpage. In addition to supporting the NYTVIP program, NYSDOT has provided an additional $7 million in direct assistance to facilitate the electrification of upstate transit fleets.

Doreen M. Harris, Acting President and CEO of NYSERDA and Climate Action Council Co-Chair, said, “By working with regional transit and school bus fleet operators we are removing dirty, polluting vehicles from our roadways and helping communities eliminate the health and environmental risks from carbon emissions. Investing in all-electric buses and offering transit authorities technical assistance shows the serious commitment that we are making under Governor Cuomo’s plan to provide access to clean transportation options for all New Yorkers.”

Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner and Climate Action Council Co-Chair Basil Seggos said, “Through Governor Cuomo’s leadership on climate change, the State’s sustained clean energy investments and initiatives, and the work of the Climate Action Council, New York is leading the nation’s efforts to act on climate while protecting our communities and natural resources. To achieve our aggressive climate goals, we must continue to cut emissions from the transportation sector, the largest source of emissions. Today’s announcement bolsters the State’s ongoing efforts to achieve these goals by reducing climate-altering emissions from every sector of our economy.”

New York State Department of Transportation Commissioner Marie Therese Dominguez said, “One of the most impactful strategies to help bridge New York’s nation-leading greenhouse gas emissions goals is through strategic investments in high-quality, high-frequency public transportation services. Electrification of public transportation fleets will build upon the more than 17 million metric tons annually of greenhouse gas emissions that these systems help to avoid.”

Gil C. Quinones, President and Chief Executive Officer of the New York Power Authority, said, “Reducing greenhouse gas emissions from transportation will require a full court press and electrifying public transportation is a key part of our offense. Bus transportation offers a prime opportunity to help lower greenhouse gas emissions, especially in underserved communities across our state. NYPA is pleased to collaborate with its sister agency NYSERDA and our other partners to evaluate the best ways to cost effectively transition more municipal bus fleets to low to zero carbon emission technologies.”

RoAnn M. Destito, New York State Office of General Services Commissioner, said, “Governor Cuomo’s aggressive clean energy and climate agenda is leading the way toward a sustainable future for communities statewide. Increasing opportunities for transit authorities throughout New York to purchase electric and hybrid buses is just one way the Office of General Services is enthusiastically supporting these important green initiatives.”

Improving Access in Disadvantaged Communities

This announcement builds upon additional state clean transportation advancements made this year, including the recent rebate increase to $4,500 per charging port installed in a disadvantaged community under Governor Cuomo’s Charge Ready NY program. The program supports public or private employers, building owners, municipalities and non-profit organizations to install Level 2 charging stations in public parking lots, workplaces and apartment buildings or condominiums. Level 2 stations provide up to 25 miles of electric range to cars for each hour charge and installers can save up to 80 percent of a typical installation’s total cost through this rebate. Additional clean transportation announcements made this year include the $701 million Make Ready order which earmarks $206 million toward equitable access and benefits for lower-socio-economic and disadvantaged communities; and the $11 million in Volkswagen Settlement money under the Direct Current Fast Charger program designated to build out the state’s network of fast electric vehicle charging stations in Regional Economic Development Council areas upstate, where access to charging stations is limited and where availability of charging infrastructure in disadvantaged communities can be improved.

 Emerging Growth of Clean Buses

New York has steadily been growing the number of clean transit buses statewide on its path to decarbonize transportation. To date, NYTVIP has assisted the Rochester-Genesee Regional Transit Authority with procuring five of its ten electric transit buses while the Capital District Transportation Authority has acquired three of its four electric buses under the program. Other transit operators, including Tompkins Consolidated Area Transit and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey have also purchased electric buses through the program.  Other transit agencies, including Niagara-Frontier Transportation Authority, Suffolk County Transportation, and Westchester County Bee-Line Bus System, are in the process of buying electric transit buses.

New York State’s $1 billion investment in electrifying New York’s transportation sector is vital to Governor Cuomo’s sweeping climate and clean energy plan. Growing access and availability to electric vehicles and scaling the necessary infrastructure benefits all New Yorkers, including those in low-income or disadvantaged areas, by reducing carbon emissions to create cleaner air and healthier communities. Under a range of initiatives, including EV Make Ready, EVolve NY, and Charge NY, the State is rapidly multiplying the number of charging stations to have at least 10,000 charging ports across New York by the end of 2021. More than 33,000 Drive Clean Rebates have helped state residents purchase electric vehicles contributing to more than 73,000 sold statewide since 2010.

New York State’s Nation-Leading Climate Plan

Governor Cuomo’s nation-leading climate agenda is the most aggressive climate and clean energy initiative in the nation, calling for an orderly and just transition to clean energy that creates jobs and continues fostering a green economy as New York State recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic. Enshrined into law through the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, New York is on a path to achieving its mandated goals of a zero-emissions electricity sector by 2040, including 70 percent renewable energy generation by 2030, and to reach economy wide carbon neutrality. It builds on New York’s unprecedented ramp-up of clean energy, including a $3.9 billion investment in 67 large-scale renewable projects across the state, the creation of more than 150,000 jobs in New York’s clean energy sector, a commitment to develop 9,000 megawatts of offshore wind by 2035, and 1,800 percent growth in the distributed solar sector since 2011. Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, New York will build on this progress and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 85 percent from 1990 levels by 2050, while meeting a goal to deliver 40 percent of the benefits of clean energy investments to disadvantaged communities, and advancing progress towards the state’s 2025 energy efficiency target of reducing on-site energy consumption by 185 TBtus.

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